Nurture vs. Nature: Caring for sensitive crops (Strawberry case study)
The BioFlora® philosophy, “Nature Knows Best,” is derived from years of experience working in the field directly with growers. We have seen firsthand which products and application techniques create a symbiosis, and we are committed to developing organic and sustainable solutions to aid this relationship. Through the partnership with Integrated Life Science Research Center® (ILSRC), we are able to innovate and create a line of products that not only benefit the grower, but produce higher quality crops and that help manage the growing issue of food shortages. Through product development and testing, our goal is to increase yield in the crop production process and further advance technical processes in today’s agricultural industry.
If you find yourself curious as to how BioFlora® products actually work, please don’t just take our word for it. Our case studies are a true testament to the continued power of our product line; one such example includes the application of our products to fields yielding one of everyone’s favorite fruit: the strawberry.
What was the purpose of this experiment?
Strawberries are a very sensitive crop, as they do well in areas with a drying breeze during the day and cool, moist nights. Excessive moisture makes this crop susceptible to a variety of fungal and bacterial diseases. Simultaneously, heavy wind can be damaging to berry flowers and can rub the leaves against the fruit, causing chafing, bruising and a headache for growers.
As well, berries prefer a well-drained, loamy-sand soil with good fertility. These fruits are somewhat sensitive to salts in water, and do best where water is low in dissolved salts.
So, it’s no surprise that a few concerns got the attention of the scientists at BioFlora®.
Given the delicate nature of this plant, strawberries are usually planted in raised beds with drip-tape buried underneath the transplant. Additionally, continued monoculture – the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop or plant species over a wide area and for a large number of consecutive years – of this crop has reduced soil fertility and ecology, particularly in industrial strawberry fields. The result is that the soil in question requires high levels of fertilizer and very high levels of fungicide and insecticide.
Our scientists – with over 40 years of hands-on expertise – concluded that improving fertilization would require a visual field examination, identification of deficiency symptoms and plant and soil testing.
Case 1 & Case 2
This trial entailed two experiments: Case 1 set out to determine if BioFlora® products could improve crop quality and quantity in a field with high salt content in both the irrigation water and soil. The study was conducted in 2011 on a strawberry crop in Watsonville, CA by BioFlora® personnel.
Case 2 took place in 2008 -2009 and was conducted by David Holden of Holden Research and Consulting in Oxnard, CA. This strawberry crop was tested to determine if there would be an increase in nutrient uptake by adding Humega® into a conventional fertilizer program.
What is Humega®?
Humega® is a biologically advanced humic acid, which facilitates soil tilth and boosts microbial activity. We utilize a proprietary extraction process that is unique to our business, which aids our approach in maximizing the amounts of humic and fulvic acids we procure. Science is only beginning to grasp the benefits that humic and fulvic acids have for plant life; these organic acids have been proven to increase the rate and percentage of seed germination, stimulate plant growth, amplify root system development as well as increase biomass yield.
What procedures took place?
In Case 1, the experiment was conducted in two side-by-side ten acre fields. Both plots had a high salt content in the water and the soil. The control subject (plot one) was treated with a conventional fertilizer program. The fertilizer used on the variable subject (plot two) was treated with a combination of BioFlora® products: Humega®, Fulmega™1% Mg, GOgreen® and BioFlora Seaweed Creme®.
In Case 2, Holden Research and Consulting compared a conventional strawberry program with that of a conventional program treated with Humega® over the span of two years.
BioFlora® products are designed to increase soil fertility and help restore beneficial soil ecology. Our trials and case studies demonstrate the power of our product line and commitment to creating a partnership between crops and soil.
Case 1, concluded that the variable subject, i.e. the BioFlora® treated crop, had a reduced NPK input of 65% when compared to the control subject.
NPK is a fertilizer ratio, relating to the levels of the elements contained within them. “N” is for nitrogen, which contributes to the quality of foliage growth. “P” stands for phosphorus, which assists in healthy root growth, as well as flower and seed production. “K” is for potassium, which is responsible for improving overall health and disease resistance within the flora.
The BioFlora® field also produced slightly more berries overall with a higher nutrient density, used very little fungicide or insecticide and had fully formed fruit calyxes – a calyx is a collection of sepals, which resemble leaves – that did not quickly deplete after harvest. The calyx is important to the condition of the strawberry as it encloses and protects the strawberry during the bud stage. Also, since the sepals (which compose the calyx) contain chlorophyll, they can also synthesize food.
Case 2, concluded that the field treated with BioFlora® initially experienced a 25% increase of strawberry plant blooms and fruit. The overall treated harvest also had more trays picked on a daily basis, resulting in approximately $1,000 per day higher income when compared to the control field.